The results of the first national survey of doctors in training in Australia are now public

10 Feb 2020

Nearly 10,000 doctors in training took part in the first Medical Training Survey (MTS), creating the first national, comprehensive picture of medical training in Australia. 

Medical Board of Australia (the Board) Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, said the MTS results provide an evidence base that educators, employers and stakeholders across the health sector can use to improve the culture of medicine and further strengthen medical training.

‘The 2019 survey results tell the start of an important and emerging national story about the culture and quality of medical training, from trainees’ perspectives. We hope the results trigger ideas and discussion about what we can all do to keep improving it,’ Dr Tonkin said.

Trainee responses are presented in a series of static reports and the data are also accessible through an online reporting tool, accessible from the MTS website at www.medicaltrainingsurvey.gov.au.

The Board has prioritised confidentiality and results are only published when there were 10 or more responses. We expect reporting detail to increase year on year, as the MTS is established and trainees gain confidence in its confidentiality and value. The results are reported directly without commentary.

In general, trainees rate their training very highly and there is a lot going well in medical training in Australia. Most trainees rated their clinical supervision and teaching highly. About 75% of trainees work more than 40 hours per week, but many value the training opportunities this provides. Most trainees would recommend their current training post and nearly all intend to continue with their training program. There are opportunities to improve trainee access to health and well-being support programs, and bullying and harassment remain prevalent.

More than one in three trainees report having experienced or witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination. Only one third of those who reported experiencing it, reported it.

There is work to do better to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist trainees and improve their experience of medical training. Survey findings show Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander trainees are nearly twice as likely to have experienced and witnessed bullying, harassment and discrimination in the last 12 months. Data about the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees is published in a specific report.

Bullying, harassment and discrimination are not good for patient safety, constructive learning or the culture of medicine. We must all redouble our efforts to strengthen professional behaviour and deal effectively with unacceptable behaviour. We must do this if we are serious about reshaping the culture of medicine and building a culture of respect,’ Dr Tonkin said.

More than one in four trainees took part in the MTS. As far as we know, this is the highest response rate of any published Australian medical online, anonymous survey. MTS results are meaningful, representative and provide fascinating insights.

The Board is reviewing the MTS results in the context of the Professional Performance Framework, which is designed to ensure that all registered medical practitioners practise competently and ethically throughout their working lives. Pillar five of the framework commits the Board to collaborations, like the MTS, that foster a positive culture in medicine and help build a culture of respect.

Reports of the MTS results and the online data dashboard which enables tailored reporting, are published on the MTS website. Care should be taken in interpreting the data across groups where samples sizes are less than 30.

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Page reviewed 10/02/2020